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The Department is currently pursuing a number of research topics, both in collaboration with academic and research institutions abroad and  through the supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations. 


Deterioration oil-based wall paintings: analysis, intervention and monitoring

The Department is currently undertaking research on the deterioration of oil-based wall paintings. The research involves lecturers, PhD students and MSc students (this includes also an MSc dissertation). 
The research is undertaken in collaboration with different institutions and scientific laboratories abroad, including the Rijkmuseum of Amsterdam, University of Pisa, the National Research Council of Italy.

The important Baroque oil-based wall paintings of Palazzo de La Salle, Valletta, currently a site project of the Department, is a case study of the research.


Insitu conservation of historic limestone [LINK]

Postdoctoral researcher: Dr Tabitha Dreyfuss

Mentor:  Prof JoAnn Cassar

Funded by:   

REACH HIGH Scholars Programme;

 Part-financed by the European Union, Operational

 Programme II, Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 

"Investing in 

human capital to create more opportunities and promote the wellbeing of society"; 

European Social Fund 

Duration: March 2016 - February 2019

The aim of this project is to extend and develop the research on ammonium oxalate treatment to Globigerina Limestone in the field. This is being carried out through the investigation of three typical local case scenarios covering a coastal, rural and urban setting where each site represents a different context with respect to salt content and exposure. The buildings studied are St Sebastian Bastion in Valletta, St Philip’s Garden in Floriana and St Paul’s Chapel in Birkirkara. The evaluation covers both onsite and laboratory testing for characterization as well as treatment analysis. It is envisaged that through this research project a safe, practical and effective conservation treatment for insitu historic limestone may be established. This treatment may form part of the overall process within a given conservation-restoration project as well as part of the building’s/monument’s maintenance programme. In this way a decrease in the rate of deterioration may be targeted together with extending the stone’s lifespan enabling the sustainability of this local resource that is the common architectural heritage.

 This research work has been presented at:

13th International Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone, 6th to 10th September 2016, Paisley, Scotland.

16th Euroseminar on Microscopy Applied to Building Materials (EMABM 2017), 14th to 17th May 2017, Les Diablerets, Switzerland.

4th WTA International PhD Symposium, 14th -16th  September 2017, Delft, The Netherlands.

International Conference CONSOLIDATION & COMMUNICATION, Materials and Methods for the Consolidation of Cultural Heritage: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, 25th – 27th January 2018, Hildesheim, Germany. 


On "franka" and "soll" Globigerina Limestone

The Department has, since its inception, been carrying out research, also in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry of the University of Malta, and foreign institutions, on the characterisation, properties and durability of Globigerina Limestone. This ongoing research has resulted in a number of publications.

On Salt Inhibitors

The Department is currently carrying out research, using the crystallization inhibition properties of functionalised organic compounds to prevent and/or to control crystal growth in porous stones. These products, which are soluble in water or alcohol and non toxic, are being tested on salt-containing Globgerina Limestone, both in the laboratory and in situ.

Current M.Sc. and M.Phil. Areas of Research include:

  • Characterisation of durability of building stone
  • Mortars and plasters in building conservation
  • Conservation of historic reinforced concrete
  • Controlling stone deterioration through the use of salt inhibitors
  • The use of structural timber in old buildings
  • Structural strengthening of masonry arches
  • Conservation of Malta’s cold war tunnels
  • Evaluation of monitoring techniques at archaeological sites
  • Historic landscapes

Last Updated: 25 April 2018

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